The Astrophysics Department of CEA-Irfu, which has scientific and technical responsibility for the MIRIM imager (Mid Infrared Imager) on the MIRI spectro-imager, one of the major instruments of the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), has just delivered the final model of the imager to the Appleton Rutherford laboratory in England, who will carry out the final test before the delivering it for integration into the JWST at the start of 2011 . The JWST, a joint mission of the American (NASA), Canadian (CSA) and European (ESA) space agencies, is a satellite weighing more than 6 tonnes and containing a 6.5 m diameter telescope whose launch, on an Ariane 5 rocket, is planned for mid-2014.
The MIRIM camera is a key instrument for achieving the main objective of the JWST which is to explore the universe as it was 13 billion years ago, at the moment when the first luminous objects were formed. MIRIM should be able to make major new discoveries in understanding the formation of stars and galaxies, as well as contributing to the search for remote planets thanks to a very innovative device, the phase mask coronagraph, which allows the light from a star to be "extinguished" in order that any potential planet close to the star can be seen more easily.
|Test of the MIRI camera équipped with a "stellar mask", a device that allows to suppress the light from a bright star to reveal potential planets orbiting around. The video shows the displacement of the star and its disappearance when it passes at the centrer of the mask. (séquence repeated twice). Credits CEA-SAp.|
For more information : see the French version
See the joint press release from CEA, CNRS and CNES.
For more detailed information on the JWST and the MIRI instrument see "the MIRI instrument"
|- Ready for space (16 April 2008)|
|- The JWST, a worthy successor to the Hubble space telescope (18 June 2007)|
 The project was conducted under the overall management of the French space agency, the Centre National d'Etudes spatiales (CNES), CEA-IRFU managed the work in collaboration with LESIA, the Space Studies and Astrophysics Instrumentation Laboratory (CNRS/ Paris Observatory/University of Paris Diderot/UPMC), the French Institute of Spatial Astrophysics at Orsay, IAS, (CNRS / University of Paris-Sud 11, OSU-INSU) and the Astrophysics Laboratory of Marseille, LAM, (CNRS / University of Provence, OAMP-INSU).
Written by: J.M. Bonnet-Bidaud